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Brief fling

By STEVE VINEBERG  |  October 8, 2008

Mr. & Mrs. Smith was Alfred Hitchcock’s only attempt at a romantic comedy, and you can see why he didn’t try again. It doesn’t help that Norman Krasna’s script — about a loving wife who, discovering she’s not legally married to her husband, decides to leave him — makes no sense. As the husband, Robert Montgomery is quite deft, but Lombard seems strained and uncomfortable. And though it has a big rep and many people are fond of it, I don’t think much of To Be or Not To Be either; the combination of farce and anti-Nazi melodrama is bizarre when it isn’t downright creepy, and the casting of Lombard and Jack Benny as famous Polish Shakespeareans is unfathomable. If you love Lombard, you don’t want to hear her read damp platitudes about how terrible war is, and you don’t want to wonder what she’s doing married to Benny. But all three of the ’30s comedies in the series are champions, and they showcase virtuoso Lombard turns.

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